Dressing / Bathroom Issues

November 24, 2010

Often the “privacy” issues are the ones that provoke upset, agitation and violence in dementia patients.  Even patients well into the mid or late stages of the disease process may still retain a great sense of modesty.

In general, try to respect the patient’s privacy and modesty as much as possible.  When bathing her, leave her robe on until the last possible minute.  When dressing him, take one piece of clothing off and replace it with another (replacing one shirt with another, for instance), instead of completely disrobing him and then beginning the dressing process.    When giving this kind of very private care, talk about pleasant things the patient may remember from the past, play the patient’s favorite music, or play a favorite DVD.  When bathing your loved one, give her a warm washcloth to hold while you are bathing him.  Most bathrooms are equipped with mirrors, but these may confuse the dementia patient, making her believe there is a stranger in the room.  Cover the mirrors or take them down.    The same holds true for mirrors in the bedroom where you dress the patient (or if this is a particular problem for your loved one, any mirrors in the house).  Plan your loved one’s bath at the best time of day for him, making sure that he is not hungry at the time.    One woman had such a difficult time bathing her husband, that she would bathe him part by part after he was asleep.

Dementia patients don’t get a great deal of exercise, and may not need to bathe every day, unless incontinence is an issue.

Most importantly, if your loved one seems to be becoming violent or agitated, postpone whatever it is that is upsetting her until later, if possible.  You may need to talk to her physician about medication.

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